Another Castle: My Top 5 Favourite Stories

As Another Castle shuts its doors, Katharine looks back on some of her favourite game stories from the world of Nintendo.

By Katharine Byrne. Posted 10/23/2012 10:00 5 Comments     ShareThis

1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

In a word: Classic

Predictable, maybe, but few can deny that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time features one of the most classic and quintessential stories in all of video games. It’s a coming of age tale of good vs. evil full of princesses and dark lords, and it’s a story of one man against the world as he fights to restore peace to the land of Hyrule. Link may not be a knight in shining armour per se (unless, of course, he’s wearing Twilight Princess‘ magic armour!), but there’s just something about the Zelda series that harks back to a time of medieval chivalry and knightly romance– and no game captures that more perfectly than Ocarina of Time.

But it’s not just its timelessness that makes it my favourite story. Any game can be a good yarn if it has the right ingredients, but what makes Ocarina of Time stand head and shoulders above the rest is that it knows how to tell a good story, and structurally it’s an absolute masterpiece compared to other instalments in the franchise like Skyward Sword. There’s the initial “call to adventure” by the Deku Tree and Link’s first “journey” into the huge world of Hyrule, closely followed his meeting with Zelda and subsequent “quest” to retrieve the three Sacred Stones, but even all that isn’t enough to defeat the mighty Ganondorf. Oh no– instead, we go through that all again when Link becomes an adult, only this time the world feels that much darker and crueller than the innocent world of your childhood. Zelda is gone, Ganondorf has won, and everyone you once knew and loved has either been almost exterminated (the Gorons, the Zoras) or are nowhere to be found (Saria, Ruto, Darunia, and all the other would-be sages you looked up to as a child).

Everything’s the same and yet completely different, and it’s that contrast and sense of having to re-adjust to the world around you that always gets me every time I boot it up. It’s traditional story-telling at its very best, and while it doesn’t necessarily break as much new ground as Majora’s Mask in terms of funky narratives, there’s a reason why these age-old plot structures still enchant us even today– because they’re damn fantastic at what they do, and as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke… well, you certainly don’t need to use the Triforce to fix it.

So there we are– my Top 5 Favourite Stories. Honourable mentions must go to Ōkami and The Last Story, both of which came this close to inching out Fragile Dreams for the fifth spot on this list, but in the end just missed out. The only question that remains now is what are your favourite video game stories? Do you agree with my choices, or would you have a completely different list? Let us know in the comments below!

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5 Responses to “Another Castle: My Top 5 Favourite Stories”

  • 1244 points
    lukas85 says...

    Katharine, im gonna miss your another castle columns, as you may know, im a big fan of your columns and the story elements of a game are very important to me. I couldnt agree more with you on your top 3 choices. Meteoid prime has a superb system to deliver the story via scans, and they are precise, believable and well written. Xenoblade (oh my freaking god) its the most upbeat, energetic and refreshing rpg i have ever played and the story is great, great pacing, lot of twists and reveals, characters and emotions to the limit, like you said the final explanation when they show how the world was created is a little meh, but the rest… Just pure joy. And Ocarina… Well, for me its the perfect story, straight forward, easy to comprehend but enjoyable, good vs evil, adventure, friendship, journey, love. It has it all. For me its the quintaessential videogame story and its the gold standard for the industry and more specific for action/ adventure or rpg games.(well its my alltime favorite game).

    I hope this is not the end of your columns i certainly want to read more.

    • 7 points
      Katharine Byrne says...

      Thanks for your kind words, Lukas! And I’m really glad you agree with my top three choices as well! :) Unfortunately, Another Castle will be going on hiatus for the time being, but you never know – it may come back some day in the future :).

      Thanks so much for reading them, though, and for all your comments too – they make writing these columns that much more rewarding! :)

  • 12 points
    Exare says...

    Katharine, after finishing your article I had to log in and make my first post. I’ll start off by saying this: I considered myself a jaded gamer. As someone who’s spent the majority of their life conquering countless baddies from Hyrule to Tamriel, Persia to Pandora and everywhere in between, I’ve experienced it all. The all-nighters spent behind a glowing screen plowing through the new RPG that took YEARS to come out, long weekends full of Mountain Dew and Halo/Killing Floor/BF/whatever FPS you can think of, years spent in an unmentionable MMO, hours and hours of Smash Bros., waggling, catching-them-all and yes even dancing. But somewhere during my wonderful adventures I lost sight of what makes me so enchanted by video games; the magic that draws us all to them. I found myself saying, “Save yourself Princess…” and “Why SHOULD I clear that pitfall?” My old 2600 would be ashamed.

    After finding myself at the end of your number-one pick, finishing up my read of that fantastic piece of videogame journalism, my heart was pounding. That magic spark suddenly re-ignited and I remembered why it was that I loved video games so much. You captured perfectly the reasons why Ocarina of Time is our number one, why it’s the game of games that officially made me a fan for life of this wonderful entertainment medium. I cried when I finished that game. I spent hours and hours in Hyrule hunting down that Hylan Loach, finding all of the Golden Skulltulas, uncovering every single hidden grotto and scouring the landscape for Poes. Never had I played a game like it and I haven’t since. It’s what made me fall in love with video games. Your piece captured EXACTLY why. It was like you took the words right out of my heart and spilled onto my screen what it was I couldn’t remember.

    From the deepest part of my heart thank you. You’ve done a great service for me today. Katharine Byrne is exactly the type of journalist we need more of on the interwebs. It’s been a very long time since I’ve read a good piece of gaming journalism that had any heart or spirit woven into. This was a serious refresher and I can tell you are a true vidya fan and have a wonderful ability to clearly express why that is. Keep it up!

    Thank you again for the boost, you made my day :’)

    • 7 points
      Katharine Byrne says...

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Exare! Your comment truly means the world to me. If there’s one reason why I write about games, it’s what you’ve so elegantly put into words yourself. In turn, your comment has done me a great service today, too, so thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, and I hope you continue to enjoy our work here at Nintendojo :)

  • 12 points
    Exare says...

    As I always do!

    Time to go closet diving for the ’64. Hope my joystick’s not all limp and noodly.

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